The season-ending 10-6 WIAA regional semifinal loss for the Nicolet baseball team on July 12 was a microcosm of the season.
Fall behind, work to stay in the game, fall further behind, work even harder to stay in the game.
'We always felt we had a chance to win,' said Knight coach Jason Grodsky. 'The guys never felt they were really out of it. I just like the way we battled. It really marked our last 10 games. We could have won any of them.'
The loss ended the Knights' season at 9-21, while Kewaskum (14-12) went on to fall to defending state champion Menomonee Falls in a regional final July 15.
The Knights fell behind, 1-0, in the first, but then the Indians pushed ahead, 6-0, in the third. A big error on a bunt with runners on first and second really opened the floodgates that inning, Grodsky said.
It was 7-0 heading into the sixth when the Knights responded with three runs to cut the gap to 7-3. Grodsky said the team had momentum after that, but then a three-run homer from the Indians in the bottom of the sixth quickly reversed it.
Nicolet kept fighting in the seventh as multi-sport athlete Adam Plotkin closed his storied career with a two-run double, but it was just a little too late.
'We went down fighting,' Grodsky said.
Plotkin was the first of three Knight pitchers and took the loss. He had two doubles and three RBIs on the night, while Jaren Yoder had two hits and two runs scored.
Highlander coach Ernie Millard said it took a while for the team to get out of the Rennicke Field dugout and leave the field after the disappointing 3-0 season-ending loss to Grafton in a WIAA regional final game July 15.
The team just didn't want the season to end.
'After an hour, I finally got them out out of there,' said a sympathetic coach Ernie Millard. 'I didn't know what I was going to do for a while.'
But it was indeed a disappointing finish for the Highlanders (18-13) after a once promising start.
They lost to Grafton (18-9) by a 3-0 count for the second time in a week with the defeat. In both instances, it was hard-throwing Black Hawk ace Adam Lukas who did them in.
Lukas was what Millard called 'effectively wild' as he struck out eight, walked six and hit two batters while hitting 90 miles an hour or more with his fastball.
'His ball also had great movement, too,' said Millard. 'I tip my cap to him. We had opportunities, but he always put the kibosh on them.'
He did not give up any hits until the seventh inning when the Highlanders got two singles.
'We had runners on second and third with two out,' Millard said.
Ryan Cho hit a hard grounder to second to end the game.
'We just have to get more than two hits in the seventh,' Millard said.
Highlander ace Joe Panella worked hard, scattering seven hits with eight strikeouts and three walks. Grafton scored one in the first and then two more in the third.
Millard couldn't say enough about the effort of Tyler Woldt, who suffered a dislocated shoulder and torn lambrum a few weeks ago. He is slated to have surgery soon, but the Highlanders' season-long shortstop swallowed up the pain and played in the Grafton game.
Millard moved him to second to make it easier on his arm, and Woldt even had one of the two Homestead hits. Sam Brink had the other hit.
'Just a gutty effort,' Millard said.